Back in April I wrote a post about some of my recent routines, including taking Simon to swimming lessons twice a week and packing his snacks. What began as a post about me evolved into a post about my Mom:
I've been thinking about my Mom so much as I pack his snack, gather his suit and towel, pick him up from school, drive him to the pool and watch him interact with his instructor. I think about her and wonder what she was thinking about as she did this for three kids, each just about 15 months apart in age. This whole process of snack-making is such an everyday activity. Did she embrace it? Did she mutter frustrations under her breath? Did she long for something else? Did she enjoy it? All those practices, all those meets and matches and games...all those moments packing snacks.
My parents are daily readers of my blog. They have been huge supporters of me in my personal and professional adventures throughout my life and have always been first in line when we needed help taking care of Simon or just needed a break at the beach (and in a million other ways as I was growing up).
My Mom read that post took the time to write some memories about what she was thinking during all those snack-making, carpool-driving days. I'd like to share them with you today. My question is in orange and her response follows.
What was she thinking about when preparing snacks for her three children?
Admitting a loss of memory for the exact thoughts I may have been thinking at the time, I can imagine the possible thoughts and questions going through my mind:
- Thinking of schedules and time frames to get to the activities on time – because you were correct Ali, being on time was something I considered important and wanted to teach all of you the importance of that trait for your lives.
- Thinking about groceries we needed and making lists for errands.
- Thinking about what we were having for dinner and could I do anything to be prepared ahead of time?
- Thinking ahead about scheduling for the homework and the importance of getting it done before bedtime.
- Thinking about Al and wondering if he would be home for dinner that night.
- Praying - for each of you, for all our family, prayers of gratitude for our home and blessings, that we could afford to send each of you to the special schools you attended, and that you were all healthy and able to participate in sports activities after school.
Did she embrace the snack-making?
Yes, I believe I did and was always looking for something nutritious and easy. You may remember, we purchased boxes of fruit roll-ups, peanuts, granola bars, etc. which we kept in the bottom drawer of the china cabinet. We also had lots of fruit: apples, oranges, grapes, and bananas for snacks. My college education in nutrition, as well as the early education in nutrition I received from my own Mother, taught me the importance of healthy snacks. It was a challenge to find foods you liked that were also good for your bodies.
Did she mutter frustrations under her breath?
Yes, at those times when I was tired, or sick, or overwhelmed with schedules. That’s when I would try to concentrate on the gratitude thoughts and prayers. Usually it wasn’t the snack making time that made me “mutter frustration.” It would have been the times when you were arguing with each other or complaining.
Did she long for something else?
I was very happy to be a Mother and very thankful for each of our children. I did not long for a job in my field of Family and Consumer Sciences, yet attempted to keep involved through part-time jobs and volunteer work in case I needed to get a job to help support our family.
I did “long for” a dream house, and spent time looking for that dream house for many years; eventually postponing that dream because it was more important to make sure that all of our children had the opportunity to have an excellent intellectual education as well as a physical and sports education.
My Dad says: “She longed for her families happiness.”
Did she enjoy it?
The challenge to gather the snacks for people I loved and cared for was the most important aspect of my life at that present moment of my life. Looking back I am filled with gratitude that I was healthy and able to help each of you in whatever you needed at that time of your life.
My Dad says: “Of course she did.”
So why am I sharing this here?
I am a collector of stories. A collector of memories and thoughts and
images. These words are a part of my story, of the story of my family.
There's comfort in the universal. There's comfort in the connection that many of us experience as Moms. There's comfort in those daily routines that sometimes (or often) feel monotonous. This is definitely one of the reasons I treasure the process of the Week In The Life project. I have found that forcing myself to focus on, and document, my daily life leads to so many positive self-realizations and profound reasons for celebration (or the awareness that I need to make changes).
We all get to choose our attitude. One of the things I have always admired about my Mom is her attitude. Even when she was challenged, or tired, or just done, and displayed her completely normal frustrations - my overwhelming memories of her from when I was growing up was her positive attitude and how consistent she was at expressing gratitude.
There are patterns I want to repeat. I want to teach my kids about gratitude and living with a positive attitude. I want to live those two concepts so that my kids see them in action and know them as a regular part of their lives.
Our stories are far from perfect. Mistakes have been and will be made. Forgiveness has been granted and new challenges emerge. There have been things to overcome as a family and many things we continue to struggle with today. This is our reality. This is the common human reality. And through all of it, I am thankful for them every single day and want to show them just how much I love them right now.
Invite others to share in your documenting journey. Including other people's voices in my memory keeping efforts lends authenticity and a whole different depth to the pages I create. Send an email, pick up the phone, write a letter - invite someone in your life to share their perspective on the past with you. What you get back may be completely different (and possibly even more wonderful) than you can imagine.